Sunday, January 21, 2007

A Tag-- Am I Really That Boring?

Some time ago, Katie Schwartz tagged me with a "Ten Things You Don't Want to Know About Me" meme.

I feared that she'd think I was ignoring her, but the fact of the matter is that I am such a damned boring person that I could not think of much that was outrageous about me, except for one thing.

I considered all kinds of things that various people find amusing or weird about me. One is my love of hot sauces. I typically have 15 to 20 different hot sauces on my shelves. At work over the years, people have always known I was the "go-to" guy when it came to accentuating a lunch with hot sauces-- I always have a desk drawer devoted to hot sauces. But this is not a unique quality, really. A couple of weeks ago, when dropping off my stepdaughter at my wife's best friend Pallette's house so my stepdaughter could hang out with her buddy Ewan, Pallette and I had a chance to chat and found we shared a passion not only for hot sauce, but a particular one-- Marie Sharpe's Habenero Sauce-- so this is not weird or unique.

The only thing people find upsetting, appalling or disturbing about me is that I recently went 20 years without seeing a dentist.

Now don't get me wrong-- I floss every day, I use anti-tartar toothpaste-- I take good care of my teeth. But it was like coming home late-- you know you're going to be in trouble anyway, so why not stay for another round. I knew I was going to get scolded after the first six months, and started putting it off. Year after year, I knew that it was going to get worse, and it gave me more reason to put it off.

Finally, in the last year of my last job, in desperation, I signed up for the optional dental insurance. Surely this would make me see a dentist-- after all, I was paying for it already.

But my powers of procrastination won out. As the job ended, I still had a couple of more months of coverage-- to the end of last summer. I was able to delay it until the month coverage was going to run out, August of last year. I finally bit the bullet and made an appointment for a month hence.

As luck would have it, of the over 7,000 days from January, 1986 when I last saw a dentist, to August 4, when I had the appointment, that day happened to be the day there was a memorial service for my late friend Mark. It was to be a solemn occasion, taking place just a few feet from where he was slain. And of course I was asked to speak. No problem, I thought. My gums might be a little sore, but no big deal.

Wrong. Amazingly, the exam showed that I had no cavities. But since it had been 20 years since I'd had a real cleaning, my dentist had to shoot my whole mouth full of novocaine and clean under my gums. As I walked out of the office, the entire bottom of my face was without sensation. I could talk, but only like "Mushmouth" from the Cosby kids. I was appalled.

The rest of the day became a race-- as I nervously watched the clock, sensation slowly returned to my mouth. Finally, an hour before I was to speak, enough feeling returned to my face that I felt confident that I could speak pretty clearly. I was more relieved than just about any other time in my life. I'd have felt like a real asshole if I'd have stood there sounding like an extra from "Deliverance" while I eulogized my friend.

A couple of weeks later, I got a notice that they were offering to COBRA my dental coverage for my son and I at the same very reasonable cost of the original coverage. I jumped at it.

My teeth have suffered many assaults in their lives-- they got jarred pretty good in a couple of fights. For years, they were worn down as I ground them in my sleep until I mysteriously stopped doing it (just as mysteriously as I had started). Nearly every day I douse them with favorite things of mine that love to stain them-- tea, coffee, tomatoes, red wine. They even took a direct hit with a cinder block when I was younger (don't ask) with no damage. And they continue to serve me. If I'm not going to spend my waning years eating corn meal mush and blender-shakes, I need to see a dentist twice a year. And whenever I fear a visit to my dentist, I remind myself of that nervous August afternoon-- when I know that Mark was up there laughing his ass off at my predicament.


dirty said...

I never had a cavity...all the way until age 18. Then I got pregnant and got pregnant again, and again, and again...I kept putting off going to the dentist for 9 years. I just went a few months ago...still no cavities.

We rule Johnny Yen!

GETkristiLOVE said...

Ahem, what's the other eight things?

Johnny Yen said...

We do, don't we! The flouride has nothing to do with it.

Thats the thing-- there aren't.

Dale said...

Wow, that's some good teeth you got there Mr. Ed! That's hot. The hot sauce I mean.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I hate how they don't give you gold stars anymore when you are a grownup. Dentists are mean.

Danny Tagalog said...

No cakes and candy I take it. Good stuff! Hope I keep my teeth...

Leazwell said...

From about age 30 to 40 I didn't visit a dentist. When I finally went back, he was pleasantly surprised.

Johnny Yen said...

Thanks, Wilbur!

Didn't you think that giving the lollipop was a little strange, after they'd just told you not to eat so many sweets?

No, I saved all my empty calories for red wine.

I'll bet you still got scolded.

Erik Donald France said...

Oh Lord! Must I go to the dentist now, too? About two years for me and I keem meaning to, but they always try selling some new gimmick like "deep cleaning." Hate it! One time they suggested a mouth biopsy that turned out to be nothing -- but really creeped me out. As if dentists didn't already creep me out. . . . .

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